MEXICO CITY — Despite problems at home, two Japanese firms have opened plants in Tijuana, Mexico, to supply Sony Corp.
Ikegami Mold Engineering Co. Ltd. is finishing construction of a 200 million-yen ($1.73 million) toolmaking plant in Tijuana. The facility will start production in March with 10 employees, including four or five technicians.
``We will probably have to bring them in from the United States or Japan,'' said Kyo Hosaka, vice president of the company's San Diego plant.
The Saitama, Japan-based firm also has a plant in Romeo, Mich.
The Japanese parent firm ``is having economic difficulties, but the operations in the United States are going very well,'' Hosaka said.
Another Japanese company that followed Sony into Tijuana is a joint venture between Nichimen Global Business Organizer and Sanyo Kako Co. Ltd.: Sanyo Plastics Compound Mexico SA de CV.
The plant compounds ABS, styrene acrylonitrile and polypropylene, according to a source who asked not to be identified. The 240 million-yen ($2.08 million) plant started production last year with a yearly capacity of 17.6 million pounds. The plant will be able to compound 33 million pounds per year by 2000.
The joint venture is based in Los Angeles, although the plant is in Tijuana.
The importance of the Tijuana area as a development pole for Japanese maquiladoras was shown at the Reverse Trade Exposition of Japanese Companies in Mexico, held Oct. 8-9 in Tijuana. Twelve exhibitors were looking for local suppliers. Among those exhibitors were plastics-related firms Hitachi Home Electronics (Americas) Inc. of San Diego and Pioneer Speakers SA de CV.
The exposition was the first event held by Jetro-Mexico, the Mexican office of the Japan External Trade Organization. Other sponsors were Mexican federal and state trade and promotion offices, as well as the telecommunications and electronics chamber, C mara Nacional de la Industria Electr¢nica de Telecomunicaciones e Inf¢rmatica.
The event drew more than a thousand visitors, mostly from Tijuana and California.